Ethiopia’s world heritage sites are fueling a tourism boom….

Lalibela UNESCO Site
The rock-hewn churches in Lalibela are a major tourist attraction in Ethiopia. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

For a landlocked country without any fancy ocean-view beach resorts, Ethiopia’s tourism industry is not doing badly. Named the world’s best tourist destination of the year in 2015, Ethiopia says it post a 20.7% spike in tourism dollars last year hitting a record of $3.4 billion.

Much of the growth of Ethiopia’s tourism has been due to its nine UNESCO world heritage sites, such as the 13th century rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, which continue to be a big draw. Also important, Gezahegn Abate, tourism ministry spokesperson, says, is the Ethiopia’s growing popularity as hosts of international business events and conferences which “had also a direct and positive impact in boosting tourism.”

In total, visitor numbers has increased 12% annually over the last decade with around 2.2 million jobs created as of 2014 according to the African Development Bank. Having welcomed 910,000 visitors in 2015, the country is on track to reach 1 million visitors this year.

Read more at: Quartz Africa